The Boy Who Lived in Pudding Lane [Sarah Addington]

The Boy Who Lived In Pudding Lane – -Being a true account, if only you believe it, of the life and ways of Santa, oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Claus- first appeared in the American magazine, Ladies Home Journal, for Christmas in 1921 and was published as a hardcover the following year. Author Sarah Addington’s charming story of the boyhood life of dear Santa Claus became an instant classic, and is lovingly reproduced in a facsimile edition for the first time here, including the original size, page format, and layout.

The story follows Santa as he grows up in Pudding Lane, eventually to become the famed gift-giver who flies around the world – and would spawn a line of books about the Lane and it cast of characters released by Addington and Kay throughout the 1920s.

My thoughts on the book: Fancy reading a Christmas story in May? At first, the lovely Christmassy cover really caught my eye. Then, I found out that it was a classic tale first published in 1922. I was quite keen on reading more.

Overall, it is a lovely Christmas story about Santa Claus’s childhood and how he became this much-loved high-profile red-cladded figure.

It is very interesting that the author introduced so many references to other classical tales or nursery rhymes (Old King Cole, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Beep, among many others).

Although I thought it was a nice story, I wasn’t really that moved by the book. I thought it lacked some magic. Maybe, if I try reading it once again during the Christmas season I’ll have a different perspective?!

My score: ♥ ♥ (= I liked it)

The Christmas Surprise [Jenny Colgan]

The Christmas Surprise par [Colgan, Jenny]Rosie Hopkins, newly engaged, is looking forward to an exciting year in the little English sweetshop she owns. But when fate deals Rosie and her boyfriend Stephen a terrible blow, threatening everything they hold dear, it’s going to take all their strength and the support of their families and their friends to hold them together.

After all, don’t they say it takes a village to raise a child?

My thoughts on the novel: It doesn’t take much convincing for me to pick a Jenny Colgan novel. A few years back, I absolutely adored the Cupcake Café series. However, when adding The Christmas Surprise to my Christmas book reading list, I hadn’t realised that it was another adventure from the Rosie Hopkins series which I haven’t read yet (although they are in my ebook waiting list!). But, I wouldn’t let that keep me from a Christmas story. So, I entered Rosie’s world as a complete newbie and thanks to the introductory note the author added at the beginning, I had enough background info to get my Ws straight: who, what, when, where.

Now, plot-wise, let me start by saying that the intrigue is as beautiful as the cover lets on. I admit that I didn’t expect such a deep, emotional story. The part set in Africa is very moving with vivid descriptions, you can almost feel the local atmosphere. The first major twist about Rosie and Stephen is touching and tearful. It marks the beginning of a rollercoaster of emotions for the couple. Can they weather this major storm? They’ll have to go through some difficult moments that will put the solidity of their relationship to the test.

It’s a very sensitive, family-oriented novel. It definitely convinced me to read the first installment, Welcome To Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop Of Dreams.

On a side note, I liked the recipes at the end of the book. I hope the author won’t mind too much that I’m correcting her on a teeny tiny mistake. Yule log in French is spelled “bûche de Noël” with a circumflex accent on the “u”. The dots for Noël are correct though. (I know it can be a difficult language at times!) 🙂

All in all, I highly recommend The Christmas Surprise. It’s another successful story from one of my favourite chick-lit writers.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

 

Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop [Jane Linfoot]

The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.

Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…

Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?

My thoughts on the novel: Cuteness alert! Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop perfectly combines everything we love about chick lit — the romance, the clichéd characters (i.e Bridezilla, playboy, etc.), the supposedly carefully planned wedding turning into a real nightmare, all wrapped up in a Christmassy cloud of sweetness.

I haven’t read the first installment entitled The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, however it’s not a prerequisite. You can still fully enjoy this new plot. I really like the character of Seraphina who appears very down to earth, if not too self-conscious because of her big sister who comes across as the perfect, never-swearing sophisticated city girl. Alice is typically the kind of character you love to hate. The idea of a “wedding manual” epitomizes how exacting and insufferable a bride can become. For the life of me, I don’t get how they can be so fussy about insignificant details, but that’s what makes it so entertaining. At times, she becomes so obnoxious, it’s plain hilarious. As for the notorious playboy, Quinn, he’s the guy who never fails to remind you of someone you’ve crossed paths with in your own life. He’s bad news and you’d better steer clear of him, although I must admit that he spices things up, especially when confronted with other male characters or when stranded on an island with just the right “items”.

All in all, it was very pleasant and refreshing to read about the series of failures leading up to the big day over the magical Christmas weekend. It’s light, amusing and romantic. The writing style is lively, the plot is fast-paced and the ending is heartfelt.

Finally, I really liked the final notes about cocktails and pastries. I’m definitely going to try the “easy peasy chocolate brownies” because, let’s face it, you can never go wrong with Nutella chocolate spread.

I highly recommend this novel if you love all things girly, Christmassy and sparkly.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Christmas At The Gingerbread Café [Rebecca Raisin]

Christmas At The Gingerbread Café (The Gingerbread Café, Book 1) par [Raisin, Rebecca]Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Café in Ashford, Connecticut was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her another reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning.
But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Café is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with ones – really do come true!

My thoughts on the novel: From the gorgeous cover to the yummy title, I knew I would delightfully delve into this festive short story. Not only is it filled with all the Christmassy elements you expect in such a seasonal novel, but it’s also very entertaining and fun. I really enjoyed the little war between Lily and her new, good-looking business neighbour.

You cannot but appreciate the lovely dynamic there is between Lily and business partner CeeCee, a real mother figure who helps Lily in the process of moving on from ex-husband Joel who broke her heart and left her for someone else. Will Lily finally get the happy ending she longs for?

All in all, Christmas at the Gingerbread Café is a great, enchanting story for this time of year. I’m definitely adding the next two installments in the Gingerbread series to my reading list for 2017!

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Little Christmas Kitchen [Jenny Oliver]

The Little Christmas Kitchen par [Oliver, Jenny]Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food!
But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.
Now, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London…and her Dad.
But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other.

My thoughts on the novel: From England to Greece, the author embarks the reader on a lovely Christmas adventure where two sisters must come to terms with their difficult past marked by their parents’ divorce and a childhood spent apart from one parent.

On top of that, Ella and Maddy have personal issues of their own to resolve, whether a marriage on the rocks or dreams of a big career in the music industry. Will they be able to find the answers they’re looking for? Both characters are endearing and touching. The plot is well-paced and entertaining. It was particularly fun to read about the creation of a girls’ band. It will give food for thought about the concept of fame!

This festive book is about knowing oneself and learning to forgive and move on. To make it all sweeter, the novel is filled with great baking ideas and Greek specialties.

This heartwarming novel will make your mouth water and your heart melt.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥

Little Book of Christmas [National Library of Australia]

This new addition to the National Library’s popular ‘Little Books’ series rejoices in our nation’s unique way of celebrating at Christmas time. Ever since the first settlers struggled with their traditional notions of a White Christmas in Australia’s December heat, the singularity of an Australian Christmas has been celebrated in verse, art and song. The Little Book of Christmas explores Christmas sentiment in Australia with poems by authors including Norman Lindsay, Colin Thiele, Adele Kipping and Les Murray, carols by John Wheeler and even some Christmas recipes. These are complemented by delightful photographs and images from the Library’s collections.


It’s a lovely 56-page long collection of poems, carols and recipes. My favourite texts are Christmas Tree by Michael Thwaites; Aussie Beach Christmas by Clare Bebrouth; The Magic of Christmas by Helen Iles; Christmas at the beach by Colin Thiele; Silent Night by Dan Vallely; and Aunt Alice Always Made a Cunning Pudding by Adèle Kipping.

It’s a festive read to get a good sense of what a warm, sunny Australia Christmas Day feels like, especially with the text entitled A Real Christmas Day by Colleen Burke.

Interview with author Darcie Boleyn

Last weekend, I finished reading A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn, a great holiday novel I reviewed here. Darcie Boleyn kindly answered a few questions. Hope you’ll enjoy learning more about her!


Thanks for agreeing to this interview. First off, can you tell us more about yourself? How did you become an author?

D.B: I’ve always written, and as a child I used to enter short story and poetry competitions. This continued when I went to university but then, as life became busier, writing took a back seat. I nursed the dream to write for years when my children were young, and I tried to write a novel but spent far too much time procrastinating, which meant that it didn’t get finished. A few years ago, my husband encouraged me to really try again, and following a few false starts, I finally had that amazing acceptance email. Since then, I haven’t stopped!

Your latest novel A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is a festive, enchanting read whose main character, Lucie, has a very dark, heartbreaking past. Where did you find the inspiration to write such a poignant story that manages to combine both light and deep content?

Thank you so much! I try to combine comedy with reality in my writing. I want to create moments where readers laugh out loud but also ones where they feel other emotions, as, after all, life is a mixture of good and bad times. I also aim to give my characters motivation for their behaviour and decisions, whether linked to positive or negative experiences. I begin with an outline and character profiles, but as I write, these take off in all directions and the characters tell me things about themselves; it’s very exciting. Lucie was actually hiding her darkest secret from me, until I reached the point where she reveals it. I had an idea of what it was but when she actually spoke about it, even I was surprised.

What do you love the most about storytelling?

Creating new characters and watching as their lives unfold. It’s a very enjoyable process and the way I described it recently to my husband was like entering a dark corridor where the lights come on automatically, one at a time, as I move forwards. I don’t always know exactly what’s at the end, or even the next step, but as one light comes on, I can see more of the way ahead and this keeps going until I reach the end.

What do you find hardest in the writing process?

The fact that I have a day job too. There are days when I long to just stay home and write but I can’t and this definitely slows me down. Also, when you write, you’re putting yourself out there, and if you’re gentle and a softy like me, you do have to try to toughen up when it comes to some of the more critical reviews.

Can you describe your typical writing day?

I write whenever and wherever I can, although my most productive time seems to be early morning straight after breakfast. I make a cup of tea or coffee, read over my notes and the previous scene, visualize the scene I’m about to write, then off I go!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers willing to write a good Christmas story?

All stories are different and depend upon the author’s own views of Christmas and own experiences. For me, a Christmas story should include some traditional Christmas themes and activities but also create that all important festive setting. Elements such as the weather and music can all help to pull the reader into your novel, so really appeal to the five senses. In a more general sense, I would encourage aspiring authors to keep trying. The success of the ebook industry means that there are more opportunities to become a published author than in the past. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, you just have to sit down and write. You can edit later, but you have to get the words down on the page first.

Are you currently working on a new novel? If yes, can you tell us more about it?

I’m working on a summer novel right now and it’s set in beautiful Italy. I don’t want to say too much at this point because it’s early days, but I hope to have some very good news to reveal in coming months.

Thank you so much for hosting me at your lovely blog! Have a fabulous Christmas!

Love, Darcie XXX


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darcie Photo copy 2Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Connect with Darcie online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/darcieboleyn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/DarcieBoleyn

Blog: https://darcieboleyn.wordpress.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darcieboleynauthor

 

You can purchase her books here:

CANELO: http://www.canelo.co/books/very-merry-manhattan-christmas/

AMAZON: http://lrd.to/A-Very-Merry-Manhattan-Christmas

manhattan-christmas-out-now-alternate

Warm your heart with this perfectly festive romance…

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas – Book Spotlight

In my writing, themes such as the importance of family and friends and the modern family unit often emerge. I’m a hopeless romantic; I believe in true love, and that it’s worth fighting for. I also adore Christmas and hope to spend it in New York one year. I went out to Manhattan in late October 2009 and my husband proposed to me in Times Square, so New York has a special place in my heart.

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is about two friends, Lucie and Dale, who’ve always been there for each other. This year, Lucie has been asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Christmas wedding in New York. She asks Dale to go with her because they do everything together and because she can’t imagine going without him.

I wrote the story in the summer, as often happens with Christmas books. My family find the whole process quite amusing, as while the sun is shining outside the window (on those days when we get sunshine, of course) and others are jetting off on exotic holidays, I’m hidden away in my study humming along to Christmas tunes and yearning for a mince pie.

My inspiration for the story started as a seed of an idea that bloomed into a novel. I love festive stories, especially A Christmas Carol, and one day I started thinking about a character who might, in some ways, be a modern female version of Ebenezer Scrooge – but not as miserable or miserly. I thought, what if there were a few ghosts of Christmas past haunting her; a few events that she couldn’t quite get over? Then I added a very positive spirit of Christmas present – to help her learn to love the festive season – in the hunky form of Dale.

But will he be the spirit of Christmas future?

You’ll have to read A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas to find out!